On July 31, 2014, the Federal Trade Commission published a notice in the Federal Register indicating that it is seeking public comment on its Telemarketing Sales Rule (“TSR”) as “part of the FTC’s systematic review of all current Commission regulations and guides.” In the press release accompanying the Federal Register notice, the FTC stated that its questions for the public focus on (1) the use and sharing of pre-acquired account information in telemarketing, and (2) issues raised by the use of negative-option and free-trial offers in combination with general media ads designed to generate inbound telemarketing calls from consumers. The FTC’s review process comes less than a year after the Federal Communications Commission’s revisions to its Telephone Consumer Protection Act rules became effective.

The FTC posed a multitude of specific questions for public comment, including:

  • Is there a continuing need for all parts of the TSR? Why or why not?
  • What impact, if any, has the TSR had on consumers?
  • Has the TSR been effective in preventing the use of pre-acquired account information for unauthorized billing of consumers’ accounts?
  • Are there benefits to the use of pre-acquired account information in (1) internal upsells, (2) external upsells, (3) free trial offers, (4) negative-option or continuity sales plans, and (5) subscription renewals? If so, please identify the benefits and quantify them if possible.

Comments are due to the FTC by October 14, 2014.

Read the FTC’s Business Center Blog post on updating the TSR.